I live in London now. This is presumably a good thing, although I haven’t had the chance to do masses of exploring just yet, as it’s still busy busy busy research season and I have nine days to produce something like eleven thousand words of material. No pressure, then.
However, last night I did manage to sneak out and pay a visit to some nice chaps who claim to be the Clapham War Gamers. Rain very nearly stopped play (ten minutes into the walk, the heavens opened and I spent fifteen further minutes cowering in a bus stop) but I just about made it in time to play some WFB against a nice enthusiastic chap of Teutonic extraction (hi Max!) and his nasty Skaven (boo, Skaven!).
We were testing out this tournament scenario called Field of Swords. Multiple objectives, trading off first turn for positioning advantages, decent points level… looks like it might work. I’d been asked to bring some filth and so I showed up with this little lot, minus the Doom Wolves, Summon Creatures of the Night (both instances), and twenty Zombies to bring the points down to 2400.
Didn’t bring the camera as I’d have enough to think about with the scenario, the larger points scale, the new group and not knowing eighth edition as well as I could, but I did snag one quick phone-cam picture while Max was at the bar… game on!
This went… better than my last game against Skaven, I have to say. I still lost, but not because of elementary stupidity like taking a general without a ward save and then putting him in combat. By my third turn I had Max’s Grey Seer and Doomwheel snarled up with Zombies, the Poison Wind Mortars dead or engaged, and a Varghulf running around in the backfield. There was a brief moment where it looked like I’d gotten Max’s Stormvermin (now featuring Queek and a bucket of static combat resolution) pinned between the Wall-o-Wraith in the front and the Grave Guard in the flank… before the Grave Guard managed a terribly impressive 4″ overrun and proceeded to get flanked by Skavenslaves, shot (without even a modifier!) and Dreaded Thirteenth’d out of the game.
I don’t have a detailed report, but I do have some Learning Experiences to mull over, and they should do just as good a job of indicating why I lost.
- I need to work on my spell priority. There were a couple of moments where failing to declare “this is the area effect version” cost me some combat rounds, and quite a few where I just picked the wrong spell either for the game (you don’t need Curse of Years and Wind of Death, really, not at the cost of Raise Dead) or the situation. I had two turns with next to no Power dice and could have forced through different spells from the ones I actually cast (an Invocation where a Danse should have been, and two spells where one could have been a tougher Dispel or a game-ending Miscast).
- Steadfast is a bugger and I need to put more effort into breaking it. One element of this might involve breaking up my movement trays and rejigging them for depth rather than breadth. Another might well be taking Max’s advice and sliding some units together. If nothing else, it’d help with…
- … having too much chaff in midfield. The trouble is that VC chaff can’t flee and is designed to stick around, which means units that can actually fight spend the game waiting for something to work its way around the flanks and engage on terms more to the enemy’s liking. I played the positioning game right on my left flank (get the Zombies charging a flanker and out of the combat units’ way early on) and very badly on my right. Ruthven spent too long twiddling his thumbs considering he might have been able to crack Queek and co., who ended up fighting the Wall-O-Wraith instead.
- The Wall-O-Wraith is only good if you actually learn how challenges work! I wasn’t sure we’d played it right at the time, but it turns out that we really didn’t. At the time, Max was adamant that when two heroes engage in a challenge, a model from the supporting rank steps forward to fill the gap, which in this case enabled him to sink attacks from his Stormvermin into the Skeleton regiment behind them. This is not so. The two models are moved into base contact, but stepping up only occurs if a character refuses a challenge and therefore leaves the front rank. Also, models can accept challenges even if they aren’t in base contact with the enemy, meaning that I could have (and should have) tossed Queek a Skeleton Champion in order to keep the front rank impervious to attacks (relevant WFB rulebook page 102, col. 2, for those who are keeping up). So, it is as good as I think it is, but it is also almost certain to cause arguments (as I suspected).
- And finally, there’s the list. I’m putting this last as I definitely think my list could have beaten his list if I had deployed and cast more intelligently, but there undeniably some key errors.
The Zombies should have merged to form one big unit, which would have put Ruthven up front and able to get stuck in rather than hanging around behind a screen that he didn’t need. I’m not sure about Grave Guard over Black Knights – I get that it’s an infantry edition but I miss the speed and the lack of concern for terrain that the Knights afford me. I’m also not sure about the spellcasting factor; the level 4 is a good buy, but does it need to be my Lore of the Vampires caster? If it is, should I be building in two level 2s, and giving one of them a lore like Light or Shadows or Death to get some more variety in there? Or is it my poor selection and casting priority that’s at work here, and do I need to focus on addressing those issues and unlocking the Lore of the Vampires more?
We shall see.